With spring football about to kick in, how do each of the teams look? What are the first impressions? These are the first thoughts that can and will change over the next several months before diving deep into the team-by-team previews. Please, give us your thoughts and questions – be pleasant – hitting us at @ColFootballNews.
- The best and the brightest teams going into spring football.
- Crank up the realistic playoff expectations if everything breaks right.
- They'll all be in the mix for a conference title, with a little luck.
- Probably a bit low - all could challenge for big things.
- Some new high-risers - there's promise and potential.
- Likely bowl teams - or at least that's the expectation.
- Low-end Power 5 teams, but there's surprise potential.
- Possible bowl teams and some star Group of 5ers.
- Some bottom Power 5s and top Group of 5ers as the rankings roll on.
- Teams that have several major question marks, or are missing top talent.
- They need to replace too many key parts, but there's hope.
- They're not quite at the bottom, but they need a whole bunch of work.
- As spring ball is rolling, which teams come into the year looking up?
The Bottom Ten
99. North Texas
Biggest Positive: The defense has the potential to be an absolute terror up front with everyone back except LB Derek Akunne and DE Daryl Mason. Antoinne Jimmerson is a good running back to carry the offense at times, and enough good receivers are back to expect an improvement with a little bit of time.
Biggest Negative: The quarterback situation has to be better, and the O line needs some reworking, but the biggest overall issue a secondary that’s going to be a work in progress with three starters gone. The team’s top four tacklers are gone.
Biggest Positive: One of the MAC’s best defenses should be great again up front with three starters back. The passing game needs to get the ball downfield more, but it’ll be a more effective attack with Zach D’Orazio and the key receivers returning.
Biggest Negative: There’s just enough gone from the D to be a problem. Top pass rusher Nordly Capi is done along with two decent linebackers. Safety is the other big concern with Bre Ford, Devonte Morgan, Martel Durant and Johnny Robinson gone.
Biggest Positive: Sun Belt Player of the Year Elijah McGuire is back at running back behind a line that should be terrific again. The safety tandem of Travis Crawford and Tracy Walker should be excellent, and Dominique Tovell and Tre’maine Lightfoot are two nice linebackers to work around.
Biggest Negative: Losing QB Terrance Broadway is a problem, and the receiving corps needs some work the stars gone. The defense is the bigger issue with five of the top six and seven of the nine tacklers gone – losing Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton in the middle hurts.
Biggest Positive: Any improvement on offense starts with a good line that gets four starters back – now the running game has to work. Defensively, the linebackers should be great with Nico Marley leading the way. Three of the four best defensive backs return including corner Lorenzo Doss.
Biggest Negative: There’s hope on offense, but the receiving corps needs work with two of the top three targets gone and more needed from quarterback Tanner Lee. The kicking game needs a whole bunch of work – PK Andrew DiRocco needs to be far better and P Peter Picerelli has to be stronger after averaging under 38 yards per kick.
103. New Mexico
Biggest Positive: Expect an improved defense with a nice mix of youth and JUCO transfers ready to shine – five starters are back on the defensive front. RB Jhurell Pressley should have a huge season behind a nice line full of solid veterans.
Biggest Negative: Yeah, the defense should be experienced, but will it really be any better? Will there be a passing game? The Lobos completed just 76 passes on the season and now they need some new wide receivers to emerge.
Biggest Positive: Yeah, Craig Bohl really might be the one of the best head coaches in college football, and now he has the potential to show it with a good-looking offense led by an O line with four returning starters. The running game should be fantastic. However …
Biggest Negative: The problem is in the receiving corps with Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne done. The top two tacklers are gone and three of the top four are finished on defense – the linebacking corps needs to undergo an overhaul.
Biggest Positive: The O line should form a solid foundation with four starters back to pave the way for RB Aaron Jones. The defensive line has the upside to be strong in the 4-2-5 with three starters returning. Alvin Jones is a big-time weakside linebacker.
Biggest Negative: The secondary is a problem with four of the five starters gone. Overall, the defense has to replace way too many key parts including three of the five best tacklers. QB Jameill Showers was solid – it’ll take a while to replace him.
106. Kent State
Biggest Positive: The offense can’t help but be better with all five starters returning, but the biggest plus is a defense that gets all 11 starters back and the top 11 tacklers. Nate Holley is a special free safety.
Biggest Negative: Will the O finally start producing? The running game has to show up with so much experience to run behind. The loss of WR Chris Humphrey and TE Casey Pierce isn’t going to help.
Biggest Positive: The potential is there for UB to come up with one of the MAC’s best offenses led by QB Joe Licata throwing to a strong receiving corps. Getting 1,403-yard, 12 touchdown RB Anthone Taylor back is a huge help for a ground game that has the talent to be terrific.
Biggest Negative: The secondary needs lots and lots of work with three starters gone and a patchwork job needing to be done to get by. Heart-and-soul LBs Lee Skinner and Jake Stockman are finished.
Biggest Positive: The defense has the potential to be dominant with five of the front six back and four of the five starters returning in the secondary – almost all of the top tacklers return. The passing game might take a step back without QB Pete Thomas, but three of the top four receivers are back including the terrific tandem of Rashon Ceaser and Ajalen Holley.
Biggest Negative: It’s going to be a big deal that PK Justin Manton is gone after hitting 20-of-24 field goals. It’s asking a lot to replace a talent like Thomas at quarterback – the offense might not have rocked but he was a good one. Top rusher Centarius Donald is also done.
2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 99-108
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